Anesthesiologists' Advocacy Leads to Nationwide Agreement to Reduce the Risk of Drug Shortages

TORONTO, Feb. 10, 2015 /CNW/ - Federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose today announced that the federal government is moving to make it mandatory for pharmaceutical manufacturers to notify governments and the public of any event that threatens to lead to shortages of essential drugs. 

The Canadian Anesthesiologists' Society (CAS) was invited to participate in the announcement which, from the Society's point of view, is seen as the culmination of an extraordinary advocacy effort that had its genesis more than five years ago.  At the announcement, Dr Douglas DuVal, CAS Vice-President, explained that "During 2009 and 2010, members of the Canadian Anesthesiologists Society began contacting the Society with questions about shortages of particular drugs they were encountering.  In January of 2011, we wrote to the then Minister of Health for Canada asking if Health Canada had a methodology for forecasting and tracking drug shortages."  They did not.

The CAS mounted an aggressive advocacy program to encourage government action to address the need for security of drug supplies.  In March of 2012, the Society's then President, Dr Richard Chisholm, appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health and recommended that Canada adopt legislation placing a clear onus on companies to immediately inform government and the health services system of any event that may jeopardize drug supplies. 

Because there was no publicly available information on the incidence of shortages, the Society commissioned a survey study of its members to identify specific shortages.  The Report of that study, Drug Shortages in Canadian Anesthesia, by Dr Richard Hall was published in the Canadian Journal of Anesthesia in June 2013, documenting shortages. 

In his remarks, Dr DuVal said "With today's announcement, we are moving towards the kind of 'no surprises' environment we need to begin fashioning true drug security for the Canadian Health Services system."

SOURCE Canadian Anesthesiologists' Society

For further information: Mr Stanley Mandarich, CAS Executive Director, (416) 480 - 0602 ext. 14, director@cas.ca; Ms Janiba Saho, Assistant to Executive Director, (416) 480 - 0602 ext. 20, assistant@cas.ca; www.cas.ca

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